Tag: grief

Remarriage: An Eye Opening Perspective

One of the books I’ve given grieving people is Healing After Loss; Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman. My copy was given to me by Joe’s Aunt at his wake. You read one page per day of this little book.

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The devotions are not geared towards any religion. There are quotes from authors, scriptures from the Bible and proverbs from other religions. After each quote, there are thoughts from the author and then at the end a one-sentence thought/prayer. I enjoyed reading this book and my copy is now in 2 pieces. It fell apart at April 17th, which is the day I started reading it.

Time For A Re-Read 

Since this year is the 10th anniversary of his passing and our 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to read this book again. Now for some reason January – March is much neglected. I do not know why and I’m kind of wishing I did not have this brilliant idea to read through it again because God showed me a different perspective on remarriage.

Today’s devotional is very brief but powerful and deals with the hole left behind by a loved one’s passing.

The quote is:

It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.

Goethe

Whitmore-Hickman’s thought is:

Not that we can’t tell the difference. Not that we are being disloyal. But if life gives us something else to do with all those impulses toward the one no longer with us, how can we not be grateful? It’s like an extra inheritance -a blessing even- from the one we have lost, going to someone else who needs what we have to give. So we are refreshed by the memory of the loved one, and at the same time offering a gift, creating a new relationship.

The thought/prayer is:

Keep me on the lookout for someone who needs me now. 

Ouch! God.

So the love and commitment I gave Joe in our marriage, needs to be given to someone else, a new relationship, with a new man. I never thought of remarriage that way until today.

Remarriage scares me. I am afraid I would get hitched to a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde type of person. He is sweet and loving until we are pronounced husband and wife. Plus, blending two households is a lot of work. Houses would have to be sold and a new one bought. He would have to get along with Joe’s family as well as mine, then I would have to get along with his family.  UGH!  Too much work, too much stress.

Yes, I know if the right person came along, all the work would be worth it.

Other Relationships

This devotional can be applied to any relationship and not just the loss of a spouse. If you lost a daughter, as Whitmore-Hickman did, then you find an opportunity to “mother” another child. Whether it is through a mentoring program such as Kid’s Hope, teaching Sunday School, or spending more time with the single neighbor lady’s child.

But obviously, I see this from the perspective of a widow and remarriage.

Still Recommend? 

It’s almost 10 years since I first read this book. I loved it then and I still love it and still recommend it. My suggestion is when you give this to someone, keep a copy for yourself and read it together. You could email each other daily or meet weekly to discuss the devotions. I know the grieving person would appreciate having someone walk through the devotional journey with him/her.

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of red roses and golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

 

 

Christmas Music For The Grieving

Christmas music took on a new meaning for me after Joe’s passing in March 2008. It was something to be avoided. It no longer brought back memories of singing carols in church or when youth group went Christmas caroling. Even recent memories of Christmas services became a blurred memory.

Christmas is a time to chipper and sing joyously at the top of your lungs. I was anything but chipper that year. Especially when it comes to the  “song-which-must-not-be-named.”

So this year I Googled Christmas music for the grieving and came upon Denny Burke’s wonderful article about Steven Curtis Chapman.   After reading the article, I went to my Amazon music account and listened to some of Steven’s Christmas albums in order screen which ones would be least likely to induce a meltdown.

Here are the three I spent listening to. They are from least likely to most likely to produce a meltdown of Wicked Witch of the West proportions. (Of course, it is entirely possible that any Christmas music will reduce a grieving person to a puddle of tears.)

Christmas Hymns (2015). As the title indicates, there is nothing romantic on this album. Now if you spouses favorite Christmas hymn is on this album, then you might shed a few tears.

The Music of Christmas (1995). There is nothing romantic that will induce a meltdown of Wicked Witch of the West proportions. However, Going Home For Christmas is about a mother’s move to heaven. Precious Promise is a beautiful, tender song about Mary and Jesus’ birth and could cause some tears just depending on your mood.

Joy (2012) Recommended only if you have been a widow for at least 5 years. But be forewarned there is a romantic song entitled Christmas Kiss, that might send you over the edge. The song is definitely not for the newly grieving spouse.

These are my opinions. Every person and every grief is different. Please review the list of songs before deciding whether or not to purchase as you need to make sure the songs will not cause you to have a meltdown.

I will keep looking for Christmas music by other artists that are appropriate for grieving people.

In the meantime, please avoid the “song-which-must-not-be-named” – Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas. 

 

(Disclosure: All links are non-affiliate.)

 

 

christmas signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

 

What I Would Tell My Younger Self

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This post is inspired by Holley Gerth’s Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely for which I was blessed to be a member of her book launch team.

In chapter 5 Holley talks about if she could go back to her elementary school, she would look into her younger self’s eyes and tell her

“You’re going to be okay. Actually, you’re going to be quite wonderful.”

That got me to thinking what would I tell my younger self if I could go back to elementary school.

Now you have to be very, very, very careful what you tell young children as they are very, very, very, impressionable. I know. I was very impressionable and had words said to me that should not be said to anyone of any age.

I am going to put a different twist on Holley’s idea and say what I would tell myself at the following turning points in life:

  • elementary school self
  • 18-year-old self the night before graduation
  • 22-year-old self the night before college graduation
  • the night before my wedding self
  • the returning to work self the first day back after Joe’s passing.

My Elementary School Self

What I would tell myself the night before I start first grade. This is the most difficult because I would not want to freak my young self out, but there is an important life-changing, life-shaping event that will happen in a year. I need to instill confidence in her and not destroy her self-esteem.

  • Never forget Jesus loves you.
  • Love everyone
  • Be Kind to everyone
  • Pray
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“Honky Tonk Woman”

Oh, and 1 + 1 = 2 not 11.

My 18-Year-Old Self 

The night before my high school graduation I would say:

  • Don’t give up the flute. Take lessons in college. Start a hobby career as a flute player for weddings, cocktail parties, and other social events. Keep track of your clients and stay in touch with them during the holiday season. This is called networking and you will be ahead of the rest of society if you develop good networking skills now.
  • Change Your Major. Instead of setting your sites on being a teacher, major in Library Science with a minor in creative writing. Make sure you do not lose your conversational writing tone.
  • Stop being a people pleaser. Instead, live to please God.

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My 22-Year-Old Self

The night before my college graduation I would tell myself:

  • Stay grounded in the Bible. It will always be your manual for living fully and loving bravely.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. You need to be grounded in gratitude as it will help you get through life.
  • Learn how to apply makeup and keep up with the trends. Teaching people how to apply makeup is a vital skill now and in the future. If you work in retail, push to get into the makeup department.

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The Night Before My Wedding Self

I would say:

Love, Live, Laugh, Dance, Hold Hands, Snuggle, Kiss A Lot

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You waited a long time for marriage – cherish it.

  • Keep doing small things for him. It’s the small things that matter, like making Tuna Casserole.
  • Live by Elizabeth Barret Browning’s How Do I l Love Thee poem:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

My Newly Widowed Self

Here is what you need to do to thrive:

  • Write, write, and write. No one but you has to see what you write – not yet anyway. Hone your writing skills but keep the conversational tone.
  • Get some career counseling. Start and figure out what you would do if you were laid off.
  • Go back to school. I know the thought of term papers makes you want to puke but go back to school anyway.
  • Trust God. I know it is easier said and done, especially when times are tough but you have to do it.  He really IS your shepherd.
  • Keep praying and keep writing in a gratitude journal. This will help keep your mind focused on God and what is right in your life.
  • Get Back to photography, and reading. You enjoyed these hobbies before you got married, now get back to doing them again.
  • Eliminate the word “survive” and “okay” from your vocabulary. Focus on thriving instead. Surviving means treading water and okay means mediocre. You need to thrive and not survive.
  • But most of all:

BE KIND

Life is not going to get any easier. As a kid, you always knew life would be a struggle and your gut instinct was right. So no matter how hard life gets be kind to others as you are not walking in their shoes and don’t know what battle they are facing. Being kind will help keep your heart from hardening.

Remember no matter how hard the rest of your life will get:

Life is beautiful2

 

Now It’s Your Turn

That’s the advice I would give myself throughout different turning points in my life.

What advice would you give yourself?

 

Hands Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash

All other photos by Michele Kearns

Widows: A Problem or A Calling?

 

My friend Ferree, from WidowsChristianPlace.com, posted One Widows Story: Widowhood Is Not A Mere Problem To Solve an article written by Lynda, one of Ferree’s Facebook friends.

The article tells the story about Lynda reading The Undistracted Widow, Living For God After Losing Your Husband by Carol W. Cornish. The book shed new light on being a widow – it is not a problem, but a calling. 

Wow! I understand that Joe’s timeline ended and mine did not, however I would have never used the word “calling” to describe being a widow. Calling is what happens to men and women who become pastors.

I was intrigued by the concept, and used my Amazon gift card from last Christmas to order the book. (Yes, it is mid-April and I still have an Amazon gift card from last Christmas.)

Appendix 2

Once it arrived I looked at the table of contents and was intrigued by Appendix 2 – The Local Church and Its Widows. Ms. Cornish nails the topic and opened my eyes to a different way of seeing churches (more on that later).

I’ve since started reading from the beginning and a full review of The Undistracted Widow will be published once I finish it.

A Nun Named Maria

Are you a nun named Maria?

Me neither.

Then we are not a problems to be solved.

For some reason we were called to be widows, called for such a time as this. Now how are we going to glorify God in this season of our lives?

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

(ESV)

 

 

 

Has It All Been In Vain? Questions After 9 Years of Widowhood

Was Joe’s passing all in vain?

Did people learn lesson’s from his passing?

Here today and gone tomorrow

What lessons if any have I learned?

I know marriages and family relationships are not perfect. Relationships are made up of humans, flawed imperfect humans. There will be bickering. but why do we resist spending time together?

Here today and gone tomorrow.

It was 9 years ago today Joe had a stroke at the base of the brain, it will be 9 years tomorrow that he was pronounced brain dead.

He was alive mentally and physically on the 27th. He was vibrant, full of life, love, laughter, joy. He frustrated me because I had to go get the other TV cart in the TV lounge in the rehab department. One TV cart is the same as the other –  right? No, not to Joe.

So full of life one evening and gone 11 hours later.

Knowing my heart aches for slow dances, hugs, cuddling while watching TV, or just aches in general. Is that not enough to get other couples of any age to appreciate one another?

Is my achy breaky heart not enough to get people in general to appreciate and love one another?

To take or make the time to spend together?

Here today and gone tomorrow.

When a spouse passes, your heart and soul ache in nooks and crannies you do  not know you have. The ache from grief can and will invade the same nooks and crannies when other family members move to heaven as well.

Questioning whether or not people learned lessons from Joe’s passing hurts and grieves me immensely. Fearing that there are people who did not learn lessons tears me up inside.

For your sake, love one another.

For your loved one’s sake, love one another.

Remember, here today and gone tomorrow.

Not them – you might be here today and gone tomorrow.

Leave no love unspoken or acted upon.

Don’t let yours or your loved one’s passing be in vain. Love one another – now.

 

 

How Are You?

(Author’s Note: I am late in getting this inaugural Wellness category post published but life, death, job search and a giraffe named April interrupted my plans. This week there will be posts about how I am doing in each area of my life. Hopefully my posts will encourage you to work on the areas of your life. Or after you find out about my life, maybe you will gain a new appreciation for your life. This series will end on March 29th.) 

Just Trying To Be Nice? 

One of life’s most over used and insincere greetings is

“How are you?”

People ask that question but really do not want to know the answer. All they want to hear is “fine.” They usually are asking the question just to be nice.

8 Key Areas Of Life

Keys

However, today we need to get serious about the question “How are you?”

How is your physical health? Physical health is one of the 8 key areas of life according to J.T. O’Donnell

Here is the full list:

  • Mental Self
  • Physical Self
  • Finances
  • Family, Friends & Children
  • Career
  • Hobbies/Recreation
  • Physical Environment/Surroundings
  • Romance/Significant Other

I put them in the order of importance for me as of today. The bottom six fluctuate but Mental and Physical self are always the top two.

Physical Self

Darren Rowse spoke about his physical self in episode #38 of his ProBlogger Podcast. He talks about changes he made and how they impacted his life and blog.

What he has to say applies to everyone and not to just us bloggers. I’ve made a change as a result (there are times my laptop sits on an empty milk crate, so I have to stand).

Must Do This

The condition of your physical self becomes more important after losing a spouse. You need to see your doctor as soon as possible so you have a starting point from which to improve or maintain depending upon your results. When making your appointment inform them your spouse passed away, odds are they will get you in quickly.

One Of The Best Uses Of Your Time

Aside from reading  your Bible and doing a daily devotion, the best use of your time today is to listen to Episode 38 of Problogger Podcast. 

Once  you are done ask yourself

 

“How Am I – Really?” 

 

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives by seizing new opportunities. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com because one blog is not enough

 

 

 

Is Valentine’s Day Cheesy?

 

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A lot of people either don’t or reluctantly celebrate Valentine’s Day because to them it is a cheesy made up Hallmark day. It’s just another excuse for companies to get their grubby hands on your hard earned money.

Do I think Valentine’s Day is cheesy? No.

 

Life get’s busy and while we should celebrate Valentine’s Day every day, we don’t. So once a year we get a reminder to express love to our family and friends. Cherish Valentine’s Day because next year, some of the people you love may not be here.

You will wish they were here even on a day you consider cheesy.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Love Always, 

thinbutterfly